NBC Weapons: May 30, 2002

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Some imaginative chemical and biological ideas from the past are gaining new interest. The US Army, back in the 1950s, investigated using recreational drugs like LSD as weapons, non-lethal weapons at that would disorient (and render harmless) enemy troops rather than killing them. None of the drugs available back then, or during the 1960s, were suitable for combat, or crowd control, use. But that has changed, as a new generation of sedatives and tranquilizers have appeared on the scene. While still not necessarily effective against troops equipped for chemical war, the new generation of drugs appear likely candidates for the creation of "trance gas." Peacekeepers in particular would like to have a few "trance grenades" that would tranquilize some angry locals. Another favorite class of weapons are material destroying bugs. This was a hot research item in the 1970s and 80s, but nothing practical came out of the labs. Meanwhile, non-military researchers have developed and shipped bugs that do indeed gobble up certain noxious chemicals. These critters are used for oil spill and hazardous chemical cleanups. The bugs are not perfect, tending to die off quick if conditions are not just so. A military version would attack enemy electronics and optics. It's just as well that these destructobugs have short working lives, as a persistent species could put civilization as we know it out of business. No one working on this sort of thing is talking much, both to protect patent applications and keep potential enemies from getting a head start in developing their own strains.

 


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